Friday, July 29, 2011

Bring on the Blog

[taken in on a side street filled with flowers, downtown Iowa City]

For weeks now, I've been contemplating my inevitable return to my blog. Maybe inevitable isn't the right word; 'inevitable,' to me, summons up a great sense of foreboding. Let's go with .... highly anticipated? 'Highly anticipated.'

That's better.

The final days of my second summer with the Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival left a lump in my throat and unstoppable lightness in my heart. Though my first few days of post-grad life and my return to the glorious Iowa City filled me with trepidation - "what the hell am I doing? did I really just graduate? why would anyone give ME a diploma, and what am I supposed to do with that now?" - the summer proved to be a time of openness and of growth, of sharing and trusting. Those eight weeks played out in outstanding contrast to the muddied and exhausting months that passed during my last year of college; it's a time about which, even now, I can't remember much specifically unless I really sit and think about it. And even when I do remember, my memories of 'then' are filtered by the overwhelming influence of 'now'. Once again, I failed to keep track; once again, I find myself on a new precipice attempting to write, to remember, and to reflect.

So, about the last few weeks; about happiness:

The last four weeks have been, for many reasons, an incredible release of old demons that really, truly needed to take their cue and get the Hell out of my life. And now they have. Sometimes all it takes is someone from the outside looking in to remind you of what you've got going on inside of you. Perspective is a strange and complicated beast. I spent the last two years readjusting my perspective in an attempt to move forward and improve myself, to pull myself up off the floor and just 'be a better person' because I had been made to believe that I was falling short of basic satisfactory human standards. This very blog, in fact, marks the beginning of that journey for me. Just a few weeks ago I read my entire blog through from beginning to end. It's a pretty subtle (perhaps even uneventful) journey, but, man oh MAN can I see exactly what was going on.

Summer 2009 was when I started this venture in self-reflection. The posts are lengthy and complicated, often times trying so hard to be intelligent and make a point. When I read it now, I can recall that maybe I didn't realize at the time that I was pushing so intensely. But I remember what I was after during that first summer: I was trying to reinvent myself. In the wake of personal disaster, I was absolutely drowning in the unknown, feeling too insignificant to save myself and too stupid to think it was worth it. And so the blog became a place to explore my intellect and prove to someone that I was just a really insightful, profound person of worth, DAMN IT. I took up writing plays and short stories because 'I was inspired,' but really I was just sad and needed a way to deal with that. The plays weren't any good, and the short stories never amounted to anything more than a few lengthy descriptions of particular moments in my past life that I clung to in that new and lonely summer.

Still, I was making myself happy. It may have been forced, but I had to try out new perspectives and be something that wasn't quite 'me' (yet, or ever, or ... yeah). It moved me out of who I was and toward what I am right now, though, so it wasn't all bad.

When school started up again, the blog quickly dropped out, save for an entry or two about stress and self-doubt, the ambiguity of education and my inability to believe in myself (strangely enough, the SAME thing happened this past school year, too).

Summer 2010 was my first trip to Riverside. It was a time of breaking down personal boundaries and exploring as an artist again - and in many ways, for the first time - and finally feeling separated from everything I tried to run away from the summer before when I'd escaped to American Players Theatre to play in the woods. From start to finish, I was beyond happy to be a part of the Riverside Theatre family and feel comfortable in exploring creatively and fearlessly. My blog, then, became a place to ponder the insights I had gained. It was a place of saturation for new ideas. The blog was empowering. That summer was empowering; it was a period of professional and artistic growth, and I entered the following school year (my last, in fact) feeling more capable and aware.

The school year was another series of 'rinse and repeat' fears and trepidations (what a great word) that stood in my way as a student and artist. That, in addition to mounting graduation pressures and the anticlimactic end to my undergraduate career, brought me BACK to Iowa City in a strange haze. I'd lost a part of myself that I'd spent the last two years constructing; I would later discover that the part of myself I'd lost was something I'd forgotten had ever even existed. It's truly remarkable, the influence another human mind and heart can have on your own. That's a lesson I am so very thankful to have relearned, and am still basking in today. It's part of what made me want to come back to the blog and get my thoughts back on track.

I returned home at the end of my summer gig to find I had a potential job opportunity in Chicago, the very place I want to move to! I felt as if things really were too good to be true. There was a lot of happy going on in this young man's life. Oh, those ancient days of my youth... So, I went to Chicago to interview, I stayed with my dear friends Amy and Dylan, very quickly drawing up the plans in my head for what my life in Chicago would be like - runs along the beach, trips to the grocery store, and even the excitement of commuting on the train included - and all the while I'm thinking "It's time to get back to my blog and start writing again. I'm in a great place, I'm having a wonderful time, and life is changing so fast right now, I want to remember this exactly as it was."

And then I didn't get the job. It totally sucked. And every happy thought I had about a triumphant return to my blog, complete with news of my first job in Chicago and the beginning of my real 'adult' life, was tossed into Lake Michigan. Boo.

So here's the lesson: don't procrastinate, not even about stupid things like a blog update. My LAST entry was months ago, and it reflects a time of insecurity and doubt. And because of that, I think, I was unable to continue writing. As a dear friend has told me many times: You cannot grow from negativity. And that's why this blog update (which should have happened weeks ago) was so important to me. It was a chance to reflect on positivity in my life and nurture that energy in order to continue forward. My blog has been, almost entirely, a positive resource for me. Even the entries that tread that line of 'emo Livejournal rant' are fighting to find a silver lining, to glean something from the wreckage of whatever mundane BS is blocking my way. But now, here I am, compelled to write because of stress and doubt; because something went wrong and I'm feeling worse off for it.

BUT IT WILL NOT CONQUER ME, DAMN IT! Ha. Which is WHY I've returned now. I figure it's now or never and, quite frankly, the last few days of uncertainty have been so stressful that writing about it seems like the only thing I can do to keep myself from falling into a a paranoid daze and giving myself 12 ulcers and a heart attack. In real life, in the moment, uncertainty terrifies me -- but when I can reflect on it, I can see it for its actual size and get a grip on myself and the situation... and that, my friends, is a way out of negative energy and into something positive.


So, let's take a look at what's happening: Money's running dry. No job possibilities on the horizon (save for the 12 or so applications I've completed in the last 48 hours following my Chicago job interview), and I have a goal of moving into my own apartment in Chicago on November 1.

There it is. My problems can be summed up in three lines of text. That's it. Just three. And the goal?: To be ready to move in November, to be prepared for hardship (because none of this has really been hard yet), and to never lose sight of what I'm going after. If anything, my three day trip to Chicago reminded me of how important this move is to me. It means artistic opportunity, personal challenge, and, obviously, a great, big, new adventure. Those are all really cool things and, by achieving them, I'll become a cooler person. At least to myself... and that will be awesome!

So, no more procrastinating. Not with job opportunities, not with risk taking, and not even with this silly blog. Ted told me this summer that it was time for me to redefine progress in my life. I couldn't agree more.

Bring on the part-time job apps. Bring on the challenge. Bring on the Blog.

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